- 156,000 allied troops landed in Normandy, across
- 5 beaches
- 7,000 ships and landing craft involved and 10,000 vehicles
- 4,400 from the combined allied forces died on the day
- 4,000 – 9,000German casualties
- Thousands of French civilians also died
This is not my usual type of posting but as this is such a monumental event I felt I had to mark the occasion. I am the daughter of Armed Forces parents, and although they did not fight in World War II, my father was wounded in action when he fought in a later conflict.
World War Two is a generation, or even two away, but still it shapes the world in which we live. Had the outcome been different Europe would have been unrecognisable and more people would have suffered. 2014 is a year in which we commemorate not only the outbreak of World War One, but today, the 6th of June is seventy years since the D-Day landings, possibly the turning point of the war which followed less than a generation later.
In the months leading up to D-Day, misinformation was given to the Nazis, hoping they would not realise what was really afoot. The amphibious assault was preceded by air strikes, and naval bombardment. The landing sites were Omaha, Gold, Sword, Utah and Juno, which have rightly gone down in history. The troops landed under heavy fire from the enemy and many perished, as they had in previous battles. The beaches were mined, and this was a journey into hell. Over 4000 men died, and double that number were wounded from an allied force of over 150000. This was just one side. Imagine that, 150000 people charging on those beaches! I cannot comprehend the numbers, or the danger. The town I was raised in did not have 150000 inhabitants.
This is, of course, a very brief account.
So why, seventy years later, should we remember? D-Day and the Normandy Landings, or Operation Neptune, was a great undertaking; the combined alliance of many armies, Free French, British, Canadian, Australia, USA, Free Greece, Free Belgium, Free Norway and many others. It was a feat unparalleled in human history. Called the Longest Day by Rommel it was decisive for the Allies and devastating for the Axis Powers. The bravery of those who fought on those beaches, those who died on that June day and those who returned, often changed men must never be forgotten. Sacrifice and heroism was in abundance on that sand. Such heroism must be recounted, recalled, so in our, largely, safe and free lives we can understand what was given and by whom. Most of those who survived and are still living are in their 90s so this is likely to be the last major commemorative event.
Heroism such as this is timeless, it defines us as nations and as a species.
The Last March of the Honourable.
© A.L Butcher
They stand abreast, so proud, so sombre,
Old men now, some blind, some lame.
Upon chests of valour medals gleam.
They reflect upon the past,
Comrades buried beneath the serenity,
They ran on, they fell and died for our future.
They charged into the mouth of hell,
Upon that summer day,
Numbers dwindling then as now.
Men of such honour,
Heroes of our time,
Then, now and forever.
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